My Weekly Risotto Night Has Given Me More Confidence as a Home Cook

The best way to master something is to just do it.

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Almost every Friday night is risotto night at my house. After months of partaking in this end-of-week ritual, I realized the value of making the same recipe week after week. It’s been one of the most effective ways of improving my cooking skills and it’s given me so much more confidence in the kitchen.

How It Started

Risotto Salmon Emily Parulski/Taste of Home

I didn’t intend to make risotto every week for a year. It just sort of happened. Every Friday, my husband and I try to skip meat and opt for seafood instead. We like this Lemon Shrimp with Parmesan Rice for an easy dinner. I also found a Salmon with Dill Sauce & Lemon Risotto recipe that sounded complex, but decided to try it anyway.

Risotto turned out to be such a fun thing to cook for an at-home date night. It takes awhile to make, but doesn’t require much effort. You just add chicken broth. Stir. Repeat. You can easily hold a conversation while doing it. And since it calls for white wine, we naturally enjoy a pre-dinner glass while we cook. It didn’t take long before risotto became our go-to dinner for Friday date nights.

What I’ve Learned

Risotto cookingEmily Parulski/Taste of Home

The Best Way to Master a Recipe Is to Make It Over and Over

We’ve all heard the saying, “practice makes perfect.” Well, it’s true. You can watch a cooking video 10 times and read a recipe 20 times, but you won’t really know how to make something until you do it yourself. I’ve watched people make risotto on TV, studied numerous risotto recipes and even cooked risotto in a virtual cooking class led by Wolfgang Puck—but it was only through making it myself every week that I mastered the technique.

Wolfgang Puck Cooking ClassEmily Parulski/Taste of Home

Stick to One Recipe and Customize Later

If you want to master a certain dish, I recommend starting with a basic recipe and customize from there. There are tons of variations for all sorts of dishes out there—whether it’s from your favorite blogger or a classic cookbook. Instead of trying different versions one after the other, I stuck to one recipe to really familiarize myself with the technique. Once I felt comfortable, I tried other versions to see how they varied. Now, I swap onion for leeks from time to time—something I learned from Joanna Gaines’ risotto recipe.

It’s OK to Splurge on Items You Use Often

I’m a sucker for kitchen equipment. My dream kitchen would be the largest room in the house and where I could store any pot, gadget or piece of bakeware I’ve ever wanted to use. But I have a modest kitchen and need to be smart about which products I keep in my precious cabinet space. I’ve learned that the tools you use most often should take center stage in your kitchen, and it’s better to upgrade the items that get the most use.

When making risotto, I always reach for my Pioneer Woman Dutch Oven, Emile Henry salt pig and saffron. A good-quality enameled cast-iron Dutch oven has been essential for risotto, as well as for soups and Dutch-oven bread. My salt pig is something I use almost every day. Sure, it’s just a container for salt. But there’s something about this salt pig that brings me such joy. It’s why I spent $40 on a salt container.

And finally, saffron. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. It’s not something you just throw in your grocery cart for the heck of it. Since I was making risotto every week, I decided it was worth picking up a bottle. The nice thing is that a little goes a long way—I’m still using my original bottle!

My Risotto Tools

How to Choose a Recipe to Make Every Week

If a recipe has been on your bucket list for years, it’s the perfect thing to start making each week. If you don’t already have a dish in mind, think about things you’d like to eat every week. A loaf of homemade bread is a great place to begin. Or learn how to make pizza dough from scratch and start a Saturday night pizza tradition. Stick to something evergreen so the ingredients aren’t out of season for half the year. This time next year, it’ll be your signature recipe!

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Emily Racette Parulski
Emily Racette Parulski is a Senior Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in email newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.